Short Story

Here are pages 8 & 9

The station sat dark and appeared empty.  He grabbed his flashlight from the duffle bag before making his way inside.  He heard a noise from the end of the store and clicked on his flashlight to see.  He grabbed his 9mm and reflexively thumbed back the safety.  He made a sweep with his flashlight and gun, when a head popped up.

“Who are you?”

“Whoa, whoa, man.  What do you think you are doing?”  The stranger threw his arms up in the air, dropping the armful of food he carried.

Mike put his gun away.  The man was young, in his early twenties, obviously not a threat to him.  “I’m just trying to get food.  No different than you.”  His eyes scanned the store.  He spotted potato chips, and made his way over to the aisle.  The stranger eyed him suspiciously.  “You should really be careful young man.  It’s dangerous out there.  I hope you have a weapon.”

The young man kept his distance as Mike walked through the store.  “I haven’t seen anyone all day, man.  How… how did you survive?”

Mike grabbed a bag of pork rinds and a bag of chips.  He walked around to the next aisle and grabbed a package of cinnamon rolls.  He ripped them open and ate the pastry.  “My name is Mike, and it’s a long story.  How did you survive?”

“My name’s Roger.”  He started to feel more comfortable and stopped keeping his distance.  “I was camping outside of Deckers.  I returned just before noon and found the city like this.  I went back to my apartment and found bodies dismembered everywhere.  I was afraid to go in, and quickly left, hiding in a culvert.  As the sun set I realized I was hungry and needed to find food.  Which brought me here.  I have been hiding and eating in here ever since.”  His eyes drifted to the ground.  “What happened, man?”

Mike finished the rolls before replying.  “Again, long story.”  He noticed the change in stature of Roger as he realized Mike might have something to do with this terror.  “Relax, Roger.  In a way, yes this is my fault, but it’s deeper than that.  It’s not like I went out and killed all of these people.”  He looked at the cash register and his eyes lit up.  He quickly walked behind the counter and grabbed a pack of cigarettes.  They weren’t even his brand, but he didn’t care.  At least they weren’t menthol.

He removed the cellophane and pulled out one of the magical death sticks.  He smelled it before placing it in his mouth.  He patted his coat pocket to find matches, but remembered they were in the duffle bag.  He scanned the checkout counter and spotted a display of lighters.  He eagerly grabbed one and lit the cigarette.  He took a long, deep drag and savored the flavor as the smoke filled his lungs.  He exhaled deeply and temporarily forgot his worries.

Roger watched as Mike enjoyed his smoke.  Mike had given up smoking on a promise he made to his wife many years ago when they found out she was pregnant with their first child.  It was a promise he had never broken, but was one he never really cared for.  He took another drag.

“You shouldn’t do that in here, man.  Don’t you know the law?”

Mike chuckled.  “Do you really think it matters?  Is anyone going to come in here and stop me?”

Roger walked through the store and came closer to Mike.  “No.  I guess not.”  He pulled a joint out from behind his ear. “Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.”  He stuck it in his mouth and lit it.  He took a long drag and offered the joint to Mike.

Mike shook his head at the offering.  “No thanks.  I never cared for marijuana myself, but by all means.”

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